Trump to Miss USA: You're not fired


NEW YORK - Miss USA 2006 was given a second chance on Tuesday by billionaire Donald Trump who came close to firing her after reported misbehavior.

Instead, Trump, co-owner of the Miss USA and Miss Universe contests, said Tara Conner would go into a rehabilitation program for an unspecified problem and would not be stripped of her Miss USA title.

Media reports of blond beauty queen Conner partying at bars and nightclubs in New York -- where the legal drinking age is 21 -- began surfacing last week. The former Miss Kentucky USA turned 21 on Monday.

It was widely expected that Trump, host of the television reality show "The Apprentice," would fire Conner.

"Tara is going to be given a second chance," Trump told a news conference gathered to find out the fate of the blond beauty queen. "Tara got caught up in the whirlwind of New York."

After a meeting with trump earlier on Tuesday, Conner tearfully told reporters she realized she was a role model and denied the reports of problems with alcohol and drugs.

"I wouldn't say that I am an alcoholic that would be pushing the envelope a little bit," she told reporters. "I don't have a problem with anything like that."

Trump has used the catchphrase "You're Fired" from his reality show on a beauty queen before. In 2002 he fired Miss Universe, Russia's Oxana Federova, for failing to perform her pageant duties.

The Miss Universe Organization, the producers of the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA competitions, is a partnership between Trump and the National Broadcasting Co. Inc.